At the Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephanie Seay writes—The Tragic Loss of a Matriarch:
She was a powerful leader from the imperiled Central herd. A direct descendant from the original twenty-three survivors, her ancestors who saved themselves from the U.S. Government’s attempted genocide during the nineteenth century, when nearly 60 million used to roam the continent.
She gained her immense wisdom being taught by her own mother and grandmother, as they, in turn, learned from theirs, and on down the family lineage, since buffalo time began. Like the mothers before her, she taught the young ones where to find the best water, where to give birth, where to find the best grasses and sedges, how to escape the deepest snow, how to stick together to stay safe from predators, and, indeed, how to flee to the thick forests to escape helicopters, horse riders, ATVs, and law enforcement during hazing season.
Years ago, she had been captured and violated by Yellowstone biologists, who placed a thick leather radio collar around her neck to keep track of her movements. They labeled her “S3.” We loathe these collars and what they represent for any wildlife, partly because they are highly visible and recognizable. As much time as we spend with the buffalo, we know many individuals by the shape of their horns, the color of their fur, their scars, nicks, hair dos, but those collars, tools of the panopticon, are worn by a few unlucky adult females, and they make undeniable identifiers.
These collars, we have been told, are supposed to just fall off after a few years. But, we’ve seen no evidence of this, as many of the females who are forced to wear them have been wearing them for close to a decade. S3 was no exception. We knew her for many years.
In the most recent times, we had seen her here in the Hebgen Basin, coming to her spring calving grounds. Again, this winter, she arrived with her large, extended family, in the company of a couple other collared females, including “A3,” “K4,” and one who had a collar with no identifying marks. When she and her family arrived, so did scores of hunters. Some of her friends and relatives were killed by hunters, and she took the survivors away to safety.
On three different occasions this kind of scene played out. She and her herd would arrive, hunters would follow, make as many kills as they could, and she would leave once again, bringing her family back to where she knew they were safe. She was also the one who surprised us by taking an unusual route, not along the bluffs of the Madison River, but through the thick woods to the north, seeking shelter and a quick departure through the trees.
One day, after leaving this way for a second time, she pleasantly shocked us while we were checking on some bachelor bull buffalo — she had lead her people far north of where the family groups tend to migrate, and we found her and over 100 others in the company of these bulls. Something most of us had never seen before, and others hadn’t seen for nearly twenty years. Again, she and her family returned, and again the hunters came, and again she lead her people to safety. Then, not long after that, two weeks ago, our Gardiner patrol spotted her in the Gardiner Basin, all the way to the north.
She was living proof that Central herd buffalo migrate into both Basins, suffering both tragic consequences . She was with a herd of about 80 buffalo, on the school football field, with no less than five of the young bulls who escaped quarantine last month. It was so amazing to ponder her journey, the decisions she made and why.
Last weekend, she came back to the west side, to the Hebgen Basin, sadly, for the last time. A hunt party had found her and they took her life. Our patrols, when confronting the hunters, had asked if they had shot a male or female. They said they didn’t know, “but it [sic] had this collar thing on.” When we asked what the collar said, one person in the group said that it looked like “53.” We were crushed. We knew then that not only had S3 returned one more time, but it was her the hunters killed.
They didn’t know her sex before they killed her, they didn’t consider that it might be unwise to shoot a collared buffalo, never mind the dangers of killing any female from the Central herd, but, even after field dressing her, they still didn’t know she was a female. The following morning, our patrols found a calf in her womb, left there in the gut pile.
Her wisdom, her journey, her unborn calf, and her contributions to the survival of this herd were simply snuffed out. Her story is over. And she is not alone. She’s just one who had the unfortunate luck to be captured by biologists and therefor marked. But, so many buffalo share the trials and tribulations that she did. These sacred buffalo have to constantly run the gauntlet, just trying to survive, just trying to make it through winter and keep their families alive.
Everywhere they go, there are humans waiting to do them harm, should they dare cross the line out of Yellowstone. Yellowstone’s bison biologists have recommended a cease fire in the Hebgen Basin, since only Central herd buffalo move through here. But, they also move north into the Gardiner Basin, where Yellowstone is greasing the gears of their infamous buffalo trap. Soon, not even Yellowstone will be a safe place for our national mammal.
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
“The most obvious manifestation of the affordable housing crisis is in rising rents. Between 1900 and 2013, rents rose faster than inflation in virtually every region of the country and in cities, suburbs, and rural areas alike. But there is another important factor at work here that is an even bigger part of the story than the hikes in rent: a fall in the earnings of renters. Between 2000 and 2012 alone, rents rose by 6 percent. During that same period, the real income of the middling renter in the United States fell 13 percent. What was once a fissure has become a wide chasm that often can’t be bridged.”
Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2015)
TWEET OF THE DAY
He came here an undocumented baby.Ours is the only country he’s ever known.He’s now a journalist and volunteer first responder.Yesterday he rescued a drowning child and was detained by ICE agents. They want to deport him.But there’s a problem.Krypton no longer exists.
— Victor Laszlo (@Impolitics) February 9, 2018
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2005—The bottom line:
Why should we care about Jeff Gannon?
A potential male prostitute gets White House credentials using a fake name, provides McClellan a welcome ideological lifeline during press conferences, and somehow gets access to classified CIA documents that outs an undercover CIA operative.
White House-credentialed fake news reporter “Jeff Gannon” from fake news agency “Talon News” was cited by the Washington Post as having the only access to an internal CIA memo that named Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent. Gannon, in a question posed to Wilson in an October 2003 interview, referred to the memo (to which no other news outlet had access, according to the Post). Gannon subsequently has been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into the Plame outing.
John over at AmericaBLOG has gone all-Gannon today, helping to summarize much of the material dug up by our own intrepid bloggers and providing hard proof for many of the allegations in this story.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Gov’t shuts down overnight, then opens again. Trump finds a new all-in-one grift and obstruction tool. But he’s still too dumb to read, or care how being so god-awful dumb endangers us all. Darwin Darko offers a service member’s take on Trump’s parade.
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